Modelling honesty

Have you lied to your child?
Perhaps your child was asking too many questions when you were utterly tired or when you didn’t have the time to go into the details? Perhaps the child asked a difficult question and you would have had to really think about how to simplify the concept or you didn’t think the child would understand?

Have you lied to others in front of your child?
Perhaps you couldn’t say the truth for social politeness or not to hurt the other person?
Of course you thought that the lie was harmless. But have you noticed that children are impacted when we are lying?  Even when the lies are ‘seemingly’ harmless, even when they bring convenience in the short run, even when it’s normalised everywhere, here are the reasons why we should take a closer look at what’s really happening.

  • Our interactions with children build their perceptions of how this world works.
  • Our manipulations of the truth might confuse them.
  •  They soon recognise that what we tell them is not always true. This holds them back from trusting us fully.
  •  They learn that it is okay to lie if one feels that the lie is harmless (the lie may not be harmless for others)
  •  They learn that it is okay to lie if it brings momentary convenience to us.
  •  When we never lie to the child, we get an opportunity to consciously stay authentic in how we express ourselves.

Note: However idealistic/unrealistic it may sound, it IS possible to not lie to a child. We can always choose what not to share.

More important note:
When we lie to others in front of our children, we model deception for them, which may be exercised against us and the world at a later stage. (more on how to deal with lying in upcoming posts.)

Observe your communication with your child and make a note of for any departures from the truth. Think of alternate dialogues to say instead of the non-truth. Identify all the non-truths you use while communicating with others. Ask yourself, which of these are absolutely necessary? Is there a way to bring them closer to the truth?

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